While McDonald’s talked about the ‘Experience of the Future’, it faced backlash from protesters who gathered around the Oak Brook headquarters. The annual meeting introduced the shareholders to the ‘restless energy’ of the company, per CEO Steve Easterbrook. However, the meeting brought more surprises to the shareholders as almost all their requests were turned down in preliminary votes. Here are three unexpected moves by the company that surprised shareholders.
Franchisees Can’t Choose a Director
While franchisees run 90 percent McDonald’s restaurants, they were not given a right to appoint a director in the company’s board. Only 1.3 percent of the shareholders voted in favor of franchisees electing one member of the board. This comes as a surprise as the company has been successfully running the franchisee model and making its presence felt worldwide. The shareholders also voted for a proposal to make special meetings easier to call. The proposal would have decreased the ownership threshold as 15 percent of outstanding shares could be called for a special meeting. The current mark is 25 percent. Only 47 percent shareholders voted in favor of this proposal.
No Antibiotic Plans, No Transparency
McDonald’s operates several charitable initiatives and the shareholders wanted more transparency from the company. Another proposal suggested that the company develops a plan for phasing out antibiotics for beef and pork. A similar plan has been executed for chicken as well. However, only 30 percent shareholders voted in the favor of this proposal.
Approval of All the Company’s Proposals
Surprisingly, all the proposals by the company have been approved in the shareholders’ meeting. This includes the nominees for directors and the compensation structure for its executives. CEO Easterbrook nearly doubled his compensation last year with $15.4 million pay. Protesters outside the building were shouting slogans for $15 minimum wage. Note that McDonald’s own restaurants pay $10 an hour to the workers. However, franchisee owned restaurants decide their own wages, which is usually lesser.
While there were many surprises in the shareholder’s meeting, there was chaos around the building. The Fight for $15 protestors were demanding minimum wage to be paid to all workers of the company. Many protests were held in different cities too. In another surprise move, anti-Trump protesters also joined the group. McDonald’s is the second larger employer in the country and anti-Trump protest groups have been targeting the company off late to let its employees unionize and get minimum wage.